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As the Internet of Things continues to become, well, more of a thing in 2017, Visa wants to do its part to make certain such devices are capable of payments and has launched a campaign in Europe to coincide with the Mobile World Congress in Spain.
The Everywhere Initiative, which Visa first launched in 2015, lands in Europe for the first time as a competition to encourage startups to develop what Visa dubs "the next big thing in payments," particularly as it relates to the IoT.
To start the competition's arrival in Europe, Visa Monday is hosting a live contest at the annual Mobile World Congress. Five emerging technology companies will vie for a cash prize worth 25,000 euros.
“In a highly dynamic industry, Visa's Everywhere Initiative allows us to explore a host of ideas that solve business challenges, influence our product roadmaps, support our customers, and shape our culture of innovation," Shiv Singh, senior vice president of innovation and strategic partnerships at Visa, said in a statement. "Every time we expand this program into a new region, we aim to attract talented entrepreneurs with fantastic ideas to the payments space, and we hope to see similar great outcomes in the European market in the months ahead."
Visa plans to launch similar competitions across the globe, including locations in Asia, Latin America and North America.
"[This initiative] is a platform where we put these challenges out there for [startups], and one of the challenges is the IoT challenge," Avin Arumugam, Visa's senior vice president for IoT, told Mobile Payments Today in an interview ahead of the announcement. "We're doing this [particular competition] at Mobile World Congress to show everyone we have way for potential partners to come work with Visa."
Visa's focus on the IoT for this particular Everywhere Initiative comes a couple of weeks after the company announced its involvement with IBM's own IoT initiative.
IBM recently opened a $200 million global headquarters for its Watson IoT business in Munich, Germany. Visa is involved with IBM plans and will provide the company with its tokenization technology that would help bring payment capabilities to Watson-powered IoT devices.
"We believe at Visa that we're heading towards a world where there are going to be a lot of commerce moments in all these connected devices," Arumugam said regarding Visa's interest with IoT-connected devices.
And research shows there's potential for plenty of those moments in the future.
We could see anywhere between 21-to-75 billion IoT-connected devices by 2020.
"These connected devices have forever changed the way we shop and pay," Arumugam said. "And as more consumers prefer digital payments in the physical and online world, now is a particularly noteworthy time to show how Visa can make those connections."